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Northwestern Mutual invests $3 million in access to Milwaukee cultural attractions


Today, financial services company Northwestern Mutual announced nearly $3 million in grants to increase community access to Milwaukee’s leading cultural destinations and attractions. The investment is being made through the company’s Foundation, and will be used to provide residents and visitors equal and affordable access to the city’s top attractions by meeting spatial, social and economic dimensions of inclusion, according to a press release issued Tuesday.

“Milwaukee is home to many iconic destinations and attractions that make our city a cultural hub for residents and visitors,” Northwestern Mutual Foundation president Steve Radke said in a statement. “We have a longstanding commitment to the city of Milwaukee and its people, and we’re proud to partner with many great local organizations that share our vision in ensuring equal access to these experiences.”

2023 grant recipients include:

  • Betty Brinn Children’s Museum: Northwestern Mutual’s grant will support the museum’s Community Access Days program, which will expand upon what was previously known as Northwestern Mutual Neighborhood Nights. The Community Access Days will provide free, extended admission to all children and families.
  • Discovery World: The company’s donation will help to support education outreach and in-person field trips for more than 2,000 Milwaukee students. Students will make field trips to Discovery World and be connected with Discovery World staff who will introduce STEM-related projects to their school’s education curriculum.
  • Marcus Center for the Performing Arts: Northwestern Mutual’s contribution will help develop and engage audiences at the Marcus Center. The donation will support several aspects of their outreach programs, including Opening Our Doors and Neighborhood Nights. In addition to complimentary tickets, the program gives students and other Milwaukee residents access to open rehearsals, master classes, workshops and post-show Q&A sessions with the performers. 
  • Summerfest: In conjunction with the company’s investment in the Northwestern Mutual Community Park, grants will support both the Make a Child smile promotion and the free Sunday Family Fun Day events. 
  • United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF): As the largest corporate donor to UPAF, Northwestern Mutual’s corporate grant and funds raised through the 2023 employee and retiree campaign will help to support local performing art groups and increase access to essential platforms for expression and understanding.
  • Zoological Society of Milwaukee: Access MKE Zoo will build on a pilot program that was supported by Northwestern Mutual in 2022. This year, Northwestern Mutual’s support will provide zoo access to over 28,000 children and families in Milwaukee and their other pipeline partners.

“Providing families opportunities to engage and connect with the community is key to our success,” Zoological Society president and CEO Jodi Gibson said in a statement. “We are grateful for Northwestern Mutual’s support and commitment to Milwaukee and look forward to reaching more guests.”

The Foundation is also supporting the Milwaukee Public Museum’s “Wisconsin Wonders” capital campaign. Northwestern Mutual’s investment will support construction of the new museum in downtown Milwaukee, which is inspired by Wisconsin’s diverse cultures and ecosystems. The new museum, which will be the largest cultural project in Wisconsin history, aims to connect the community and create a multi-generational impact.